116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — A thousand people, and maybe a few hundred more than that, were in Kinnick Stadium following Freddie Mercury’s lead at 1:30 in the morning.
A 1985 video of the late lead singer of Queen was on the video boards at Kinnick, with Mercury leading a Live Aid crowd in “Ay-Oh!” The fans who endured all or some or even none of the three lightning delays at the Nevada-Iowa football game were singing along with Freddie. At 1:30 a.m.
It was unusual. It was a very unusual night.
It rained from the 6:40 p.m. kickoff until play resumed for good around 12:45 a.m. It ended at 1:39 a.m. Iowa won the Saturday/Sunday game, 27-0, and scored three touchdowns on offense, which was unusual for this season.
The first delay was in the third quarter from 8:37 to 9:57 p.m. Play resumed long enough for Nevada to run 10 plays. The next delay was from 10:06 to 11:54 p.m. Play resumed long enough for one incomplete pass and one penalty for offsides.
Just a sliver of the sellout crowd stayed for the first resumption of play as rain poured down and the night grew later. Other people in the area, however, saw opportunity.
Tim Sullivan of Cedar Rapids hustled down to Kinnick and caught the game’s final segment. So did three Iowa Citians who had been in Cedar Rapids for a wedding and the following reception that ended at 11:30 p.m.
Joe Keans, Will Tornberg and Joe Kipp, like most of the people in Kinnick for the Sunday portion of the game, were close to field level. Unlike all the others, though, they were wearing suits.
“We were watching some of the game at the wedding,” Tornberg said. “The reception ended at 11:30. We heard the game was still on, so we booked it to the stadium.”
Former Iowa linebacker Mike Humpal and his wife, Lindsey, were at the game until the first rain delay. Humpal said he went to North Liberty to play euchre with friends.
When he heard the game was going to restart for a third time, he said “Let’s go back!”
“The security lady didn’t even ask for our ticket,” he said with a laugh. “We had to come back. This is once-in-a-lifetime.”
Iowa nursing student Carter Dochterman left the stadium after the game was delayed the first time and went downtown.
“Went to SpoCo (Sports Column) and had vodka Red Bulls,” he said. He decided to catch Restart No. 3, so “we made the long walk back in the rain.”
Matt Haas of North Liberty hadn’t attended an Iowa football game since 2008. The Kirkwood Community College assistant women’s basketball coach doesn’t like dealing with the crowds here. But opportunity knocked, and his 8-year-old son Hayden had never been to a Hawkeyes game.
“During the second delay I said if they come back and play we’re going,” Haas said. “My son was still awake.”
Hayden, named for the late Iowa football coach Hayden Fry, was asleep with his head on his dad’s lap as Kaleb Johnson scored a fourth-quarter touchdown for Iowa.
The Iowa marching band members hung in for a long time, but didn’t stay for the final restart. So some of the fans made their own music and sound effects with their voices.
It was 1:45 a.m. The Hawkeyes had left the field in their Swarm, getting a heroes’ salute from fans on their way to their tunnel. Those fans then left Kinnick themselves, some of them for the fourth time that night.
Many were chanting “Let’s go Hawks!” as they filed out.
The Hawkeyes had a tough week, having to hear about their offensive woes and failure to beat Iowa State the week before. But they learned they weren’t friendless, based on the support they had in the wee, wee hours.
Those people came back from the bars, from a wedding party, from a card game. They came back.
Lightning returned to Iowa City shortly after Kirk Ferentz’s latest postgame news conference ever, which wrapped up around 2:30 a.m.
"It’s unusual for sure,“ Ferentz said.
“This is the weirdest thing of all-time,” Dochterman said. “There’s no place I’d rather be.”
Comments: (319) 398-8440; firstname.lastname@example.org